Saturday, January 31, 2009

Is Your House Like This, Too?

For her birthday, a group of my friends gave Little Miss a dollhouse. I never opened it, thinking that a) she's probably too young for a dollhouse and b) we already have so many toys, we don't really need any more.

On Thursday, my mom opened it up and started putting it together. Those last four words still crack me up. My mom isn't exactly the most mechanically inclined person I know. She can't read a map, and the way children's toys provide instructions work about as well for her. It was rather entertaining to watch her try to put it together -- or rather to hear her, since I was working while she was doing this.

It finally all came together, and this has been the favorited toy for both the wee ones ever since. What, you say her birthday was awhile ago? Well, yeah it's true that her half-birthday is tomorrow. But I really didn't think she'd be interested in it. I was wrong.

It comes with a mom and dad and two babies. They have a swing, a slide, a kitchen table and chairs, and I think that's it. After the wee ones had been playing with it for awhile, my mom turned to me and asked, "Do you suppose they might make any furniture or anything for this dollhouse?"

I'm a smart alec. "Nope, this is it. They decided they didn't need to make any more money off this franchise. It's really a shame though, isn't it? They don't even have a bed to sleep on." My mom agreed with me. I sighed and pointed out that it was made by Fisher Price. I probably don't make enough money in a year to buy the acessories the company provides.

Regardless, the wee ones are quite content to play with it as is. They have the house completely in order.

This is the kitchen where everyone eats breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Apparently they don't fear carbon monoxide poisoning, as the gas grill is in the kitchen.


After dinner, the babies go up to their room. It's the nursery, according to Little Miss.



Then, the mommy and daddy walk up the stairs to their bedroom. I've decided the babies must fly to the nursery, as Little Miss didn't need them to walk up any stairs -- not even the set of stairs to the second floor before flying off to bed.


This is the mommy and daddy bedroom. I found it interesting that the mommy and daddy sleep head to toe. In our house, Mommy and Daddy sleep in the same bed with our heads facing the right direction. Eh, she's three.


And this is Sir Topham Hatt's bedroom. He is apparently a boarder in the dollhouse, and he brought some of his friends from the Island of Sodor with him. Ahh, this explains why Harold the helicoptor and friends were around the kitchen table eating with the family!


And this is Snowy's room. Yes, the famous Snowy the bear who wears underwear that Little Miss steals to wear on her head. He is apparently also a boarder who sleeps in the bedroom next to the mommy and daddy. Do you like the Thomas underwear and bowtie? Apparently he takes his socks off for bedtime though, as those aren't on him at the moment.


The rest of the trains sleep in the trailer in teh back yard. Lucky for them, they each have their own compartment (just like those creepy hotels in Japan!) with their names labeled so no one ever gets confused. Gotta love the little bit of hillbilly in Little Miss. It comes from her father's side of the family, just in case you were wondering!


After they'd been playing with the dollhouse for awhile, I asked Little Miss if she had named any of the dolls yet. I was pretty sure she had, and her vehement nod confirmed it. I was expecting more "Snowy, Snowy, Snowy, Snowy." Nope. "This is Michelle X. This is Little Miss. This is Mister Man. And this one is Daddy X." Yep, apparently I have a first and a last name in Little Miss's world, but Daddy... he only has a last name. Awwww, how sweet.

With as much fun as they've been having with the dollhouse, I'm really wondering why I didn't open it before. Then again, ask me next week if they still even notice it sitting in the middle up our upstairs hallway!



Friday, January 30, 2009

Yes, We Have No Bananas!

I went to the store yesterday to pick up some things. My two stores of choice are Costco (Hello, my name is Michelle and I'm a Costcoaholic) and Caputo's, which is a fresh market store near me. Essentially, that means that they sell things I eat much cheaper than Dominick's or Jewel.

I look at the flyer for Dominick's, and they're selling avocados 2 for $3. And strawberries are on sale for $3.99 per pound. Romaine hearts are on sale for $1.39 per pound. Oooo, and tangerines are on sale for only $1.29 per pound.

Then I check out Caputo's. Avocados are $0.59 each. Strawberries? $1.79 for a one pound container. Hmm. Romaine? Three organic hearts for $1.39 (way more than a pound there). Tangerines are also on sale. How much, you ask? Why they're $0.49 per pound.

The list goes on and on. I do head to Dominick's periodically to pick up things like yeast and pasta, as they aren't always cheaper at Caputo's, but that's really about it. I feel ripped off every time I walk into Dominick's ever since I met Captuo's.

Back to my point -- and I promise, I did have one. I picked up the items I needed at Caputo's -- some grapes for $0.89 per pound. Their yummy potato gnocchi for $0.99 per container. Tomatoes for $0.49 per pound. The aforementioned romaine hearts and avocados. And I made a mental note to come back to pick up a few more things before the Super Bowl party I'm hosting.

I paid for my items and started to walk out the store. A store employee rushes by me to help an older gentleman with a bag and bring it to him. I step aside to let him through. When he comes back the other way, he excuses himself, and I turn to watch. He's rushing back with a second bag. I sorta wondered what was so fragile and/or heavy in the bag that he couldn't hand the older gentleman both bags at once, but whatever.

Again, the employee excuses himself. No problem, I say. Then I realize that he's handing the bag to me. Umm, what? Please take this bag of bananas as our way of thanking you for shopping at Caputo's. Oh. Now it makes more sense. I thank him profusely and walk out the store.

Then I notice that the bag really is pretty heavy. So I check it out. It is full of bananas. There are eight bunches of bananas. Fifty-three bananas. I counted after I got home. There are four people in my house, and one of the four of us doesn't like bananas after they've turned yellow (guilty -- I only like bananas when they're mostly green and before they start to get sweet).

Seriously, check out the massive stockpile of bananas -- and this is after my mom took the largest bunch home with her and the wee ones each ate four bananas and my husband ate a few.



I still have twenty-seven bananas sitting here. What do you do with that many? The wee ones will be on a banana kick for only so long. And my banana recipe doubled to make two loaves only calls for, at most, four bananas.

I'm digging through my recipes to find something else to make. Lots of something elses to make. Little Miss's half birthday is on Sunday. We'll be having dairy free banana cupcakes. I'm making banana bread. My uncle has a really great banana brownie thing with cream cheese frosting that I think I can duplicate. I'm going to have to find the banana mousse recipe I'd mentioned awhile ago and haven't made since. I think I'm still going to have bananas left after that.

I don't really want to freeze this many bananas. It would be nice to be able to put something else in my freezer besides these prolific yellow treats. And the wee ones no longer think mashed up bananas spread on toast is such a special treat, so that idea is out.

Help! Save me from drowning in bananas. What else can I make?



PS Yes, I will be posting a banana recipe on this week's Tasty Tuesday. Let me know if you have a preference, and I'll try to accomodate.

PPS The title is one of my grandfather's favorite songs ever. It turned up on a CD someone made for a one year old's birthday party, and the wee ones immediately started singing it when they saw our bounty. I love kids' songs that don't make me want to poke my eyes out with toothpicks.



It's not quite the right version, but this was the closest I could find to "our" song.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Welcome, SITStas!

Welcome SITStas! I'm so excited to have you all visiting today, and I hope have fun poking around. I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to clean more, but I'm still walking around one-handed. I wa planning to cook a whole feast for you, especially this new guacamole recipe I found is my current favorite.

At least I have the two wee ones -- Mister Man and Little Miss off to school, so it's a little quieter around here right now. They tend to entertain me. And drive me nuts. Then again, so does work, and yes, I'm working today, so it might take me awhile to get back to all your lovely, beautiful comments.

I've got a lot of posts out there, from my very first one where I found out why you want to change your water filter to more current ones reminiscing about my pets and learning about knife safety.

If you really want to make my day, come on back soon (or just you know, make it easy on yourself and boost my ego by following me...). I hope you enjoyed your visit!

In all seriousness though, if you are able to donate blood, please go donate now. Because of the weather and company layoffs, blood banks are way down on usual donations and are particularly short on O neg and B neg. Elective surgeries are being pushed back, and they are praying for no traumas. Find where you can donate near you (800 GIVE LIFE -- 800 448 3543), and make a difference! In fact, Manic Mommy's having a blood drive contest right now where you can actually win a six day vacation to Sandestin in Florida, among other great prizes. What more motivation do you need?

And You Thought All Girl Scouts Were Good....

I told you a couple weeks ago how I got my very first pet, Caesar. She was so special to me and was the best cat a little girl could ever ask for. She wasn't my only pet though -- considering I have two cats right now, I suppose that's obvious.

Anyway, like most girls, I was fascinated by horses. When I lived in Belgium, there was a barn just down the road from us, and a friend of mine Kiersten Grashofer -- I can't believe I remember that name! -- owned a horse named Melody that I got to see every once in awhile. Unfortunately, my French wasn't good enough to take lessons at first, and by the time it was good enough and a new session was starting, we were moving back to the States.

I immediately started riding after we moved and loved it more than I could have imagined, much to my mom's chagrin -- and that of her pocketbook! That was third grade, and I kept riding until I was pregnant with Little Miss. I'd still be doing it if I could find the time and justify the expense.

The summer after fourth grade, I had the opportunity to choose what camp I wanted to go to. Whoo! What a responsibility for an nine year old. Ok, so it wasn't so hard. My mom handed me the catalogue of Girl Scout camps, and I found the one that was horseback riding.

Oh, what a joy those two weeks were. I had so much fun riding and grooming and just hanging out around the horses. The other girls did, too, although they were less interested in the horses than I was.

Their favorite game was Stick 'Em.

Like every barn -- or almost every barn -- they had barn cats. It helps to keep the mouse population down, which reduces disease et al. And when you have barn cats, there are constant litters of kittens since barn cats are rarely spayed and less often neutered. And they tend to not live that long, so the new kittens keep the population stable, sadly. (I just realized I made a pun!)
This barn had six kittens. They were only a few weeks old, and oh! were they cuddly and soft and cute. Many of the Girl Scouts liked to pick up the kittens and toss them at haybales to see if they'd stick. Yep, that was their favorite game.

I was appalled. When I found what they were doing, I cried. And for whatever reason, the counselors did nothing about it. After awhile, my resolve grew.

When my mom arrived to pick me up at the end of the two weeks, I told her that I was taking two kittens home and was going to save them from this life of misery. My mom isn't exactly an animal person, and we already had a dog and a cat at home.

I begged. I pleaded. I told her of the torture these cats were going through, of how the girls laughed at the poor mewing kittens flying through the air before thrusting out their claws in a panic on the haybales to keep from falling four to six feet to the ground.

My mom finally relented and allowed me to take one kitten home. It was really hard to choose only one to save, but one finally called out to me. Luckily, one of the counselors knew how to tell boy from girl -- my mom had obviously learned from our last encounter.

The poor little kitten was gently placed into our car, and we began the drive home. She hid underneath the seat the whole way, mewing softly but never moving.

By the time we arrived home, I had found a name for her. I named her Copper Top because she never stopped. And yes, this was in the days prior to the Energizer Bunny or that may have been her name. Considering her blaze orange coloring, many people assumed I named her Copper because she was copper. Sadly, no.

We took her to the vet to be spayed and get her shots. That's when we discovered she had fleas. Lots and lots of fleas. Oops. Sorry, Mom. I swear I didn't know. Fortunately, we quickly rid ourselves of the fleas, and life was happy.

While Caesar didn't love Copper, they tolerated each other pretty well, and all was good. After Caesar died, you could tell that she missed having someone around. My mom wasn't about to gete another pet though, and I lived in a college dorm, so she was stuck.

When I finally moved to an apartment off campus, I brought Copper with me. I lived alone, so she was a great companion and was so happy to have me around all the time again.

Even at the age of eleven when I brought her to Chicago, she was still head shy. Eleven years of a gentle and loving home with me and my family, and the poor cat still flinched anytime someone approached her too quickly from the front with a hand out. She never got over being picked up and thrown at haybales over and over again.

I sometimes think about the other five kittens that I couldn't take with me. I wonder how many of them stayed at the barn. I wonder if the Stick 'Em game persisted with other groups of Girl Scouts. I wonder if any of them ever had a family to love them....

Knowing that I was at least able to save one kitten who had a long and happy eighteen years with me before she passed away one afternoon has to be enough. At the age of nine, I didn't have the power to do more. The injustice and wrongness of it still burns in me though.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Can I Freeze Them?

Today, my mom watched the wee ones for me for a bit while I ran out to get some stuff done that badly needed doing -- like getting my stitches removed -- without trying to wrangle the wee ones. Small children and surgical instruments just don't mix.

When I returned, I had run a bunch of errands, including picking up more vitamins for Mister Man (Little Miss has her own vitamins that are dairy free -- seriously, who ever would have dreamed that even vitamins have dairy in them?). Mister Man gets two kinds of vitamins. We give him the normal kid all around vitamin, and he also takes flavored cod liver oil, which is supposed to help a lot of things from brain development to sensory regulation and more.

When I first gave the cod liver oil to him, I didn't want to call out anything wrong to him or make him feel different from Little Miss, so I called them "brain pills" figuring that a) it was partly true and b) that he'd feel special in a good way rather than singled out. The brain pills moniker has stuck.

Needless to say, this played into both cute moments with Mister Man today.

Mister Man is a reader. And he has a fantastic memory. Once you read a book to him, he's pretty much got it down pat, so don't go trying to skip any words or otherwise cheat. Or ... in my mom's case, don't mispronounce a word. He'll catch it. And very seriously, he'll turn to you and say, "Grandma, would you like me to get you some of my brain pills? I'll share them with you because it seems like you need them."

Yeah. That's my son -- always thinking of others. My poor mom couldn't keep a straight face to even attempt to answer him.

Mister Man was at preschool when I arrived home with everything, so I put away the groceries, restocked my Band-Aid supply (for the cut still), and put the vitamins on the counter with the current supply.

Shockingly, Mister I-Don't-Miss-A-Trick walked into the house after he got off the bus and stopped to get a drink before we ran out to the chiro. Walking by the counter, he of course saw the new vitamins.

He carefully picked them up and shook the bottles to verify that yes, in fact the bottles were filled to the brim and I had purchased new vitamins rather than just putting random vitamin bottles on the counter to mess with him (ok, that's my own personal interpretation... but he really did pick them up and shake them).

I got a very soulful look from mister Man before he broke out into a joyous grin. "Mommy," he decleared oh so earnestly, "you're wonderful! Thank you so much for buying me my new vitamins. I was going to run out this week, you know. You're amazing."

Really. How can you not love the boy? I got amazing and wonderful in one breath from him. It really takes that little to please him. And I'm going to hold onto this little bit of happiness the next time he has a meltdown because he got too hungry or too tired.

And as a side note, he actually did know that was going to run out of vitamins this week. On Saturday, he'd poured out the brain pills, counted them and then determined that if he takes two pills a day (which he does), that on Thursday of this week they'd be all gone. And he counted his remaining basic vitamins and realized that he'd run out the same day and have just a half a vitamin left for Friday (a remnant from before we realized Little Miss had a dairy allergy and she had the same vitamins but just a half instead of the whole one). Needless to say, he found this very disturbing. That's my little planner.

I know this age of cuteness is going to pass and the days of them saying nice things will quickly turn into attitude and doors slamming, but I'm hoping the wee ones give me enough of this little gems that I can store up the warm and fuzzies to get myself through the pre-teen and teen years. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tasty Tuesday!

It's that time of the week again, and I have another of my favorite recipes for you. In winter, I tend to make more hearty dishes and ones that require the use of my oven or stove. Come summer, it's crock pot or the grill!

Again, I'm linking up with Blessed With Grace and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday. There's such a huge variety of recipes out there, and you really should go check it out if you want some variety in your cooking.

So without further ado, let me introduce you to me Chicken and Pea "Risotto." It isn't real risotto, but it has a similar taste and is super easy to make. Plus, it's one of the adult-type foods I make that the wee ones really enjoy.

Ingredients:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 c chicken stock (stock, not bouillion or other overly salty stuff)
2 c basmati rice
2 c milk
2 oz freshly grated Parmasean or other hard cheese
2 c frozen peas
Salt and pepper to taste (little needed)



Makes 8 good size servings (~1 1/2 c)

Cook rice as directed or using a rice cooker. If you are using stock, use stock in place of 3 c of the needed water.

While the rice is cooking, poach your chicken.


Once the chicken is done, shred/cut up the chicken into bite size pieces and add to a large, deep pan (e.g., boulliabase). Place the rice atop the chicken and stir to mix together.



Turn the heat to medium low and add the milk. Stir briefly to incorporate (using a rice paddle is most effective) and continue stirring every 2 to 3 minutes until milk has cooked down.

Add the cheese in batches and stir to avoid having clumps of cheese in the mixture. Taste and determine if pepper and/or salt is needed. Salt and pepper to taste. Add peas and stir to combine. In 2-3 minutes, the peas will be heated through, and you're ready to serve.


This keeps well and is good cold or reheated for the next 2-3 days.



Enjoy!

Monday, January 26, 2009

You Want To Know What?

It's been a long time since I've gone to go look at Stat Counter to see where people are coming from (hello, Paraguay, Dehli, Sydney and other locales I wish I were in!). And of course I had to check out what searches were bringing people to your humble blog here.

There were some good ones.

sissy husband
Ummm. This brought you here? Now I'm really glad my husband doesn't read this. I wonder if the person wanted to know what a sissy husband looked like or was in search of a sissy husband to dominate.

i love the cabinets from Costco
I haven't gotten any, but it's good to know they someone likes them. Someday I'll remodel my kitchen so that the cabinets are the same color on all sides, and I'll most likely get them from Costco.

how many mittens and gloves lost each year
Dude. You don't want to know. First, I don't think I can count that high, and second, I think that number would really depress you.

are evites tacky for kids birthday
Apparently "Dear Google" is a new advice column they're debuting. Let me answer it for you though -- in my personal opinion? YES! Super Bowl party? Go for it. A kids' birthday party? Not so much. And I'd like to go on record as saying that the first wedding invitation I receive as an evite, I will be declining.

ridiculous over the top birthday parties for children wish lists
Well, you won't find examples of this here, but you will find my thoughts on them. And I'm guessing that this over the top thing and wish lists isn't restricted just to my neck of the woods. Trust me, your kids are just as happy running around in the back yard. They don't need the bar set this high for happiness this early in life.

what are the nicest apartments in edwardsville
I have no idea. I don't think I've ever been to Edwardsville, although I do know that it's a town in southern Illinois near St. Louis. And that if I were to ask my husband, I'm positive he'd be able to answer off the top of his head. Actually, I tried it. I got an "oh. oooo. The only place I can think of in Edwardsville is pretty skeevy, not ghetto or anything, but definitely there aren't any luxury apartments there. If you're wanting a nice high end rental, you're getting a duplex or a townhome." Seriously, the man amazes me.

its not cheating if he watches tee shirts
Granted, I had to read this a few times before I figured out that the person was looking for a t-shirt that had the it's not cheating saying on it. To me, the fact that someone would want to have a t-shirt like that and would think it's funny... it's just sad to me. But I know I'm kinda old fashioned. I definitely won't be able to help this person!

tips for staying warm at football games
Well. You certainly came to the right place for that one! I'm an expert. Just go check out this post.

stitches hand kitchen knife
As I've learned, if you're googling whether or not you need stitches, go get the stitches. You need them. Oh, and Friday morning when I changed my bandage and moved to just a Band-Aid covering my stitches? I realized that I have four stitches, not the three I thought. Apparently I can't count anymore!

oh my god is it swearing
Technically, yes. Again, Google won't answer you, People. That's what I'm here for, I guess. So technically, yes, when you take the Lord's name in vain, it is swearing. In today's society, no one thinks anything of it, but it is swearing. Oh, and do me a favor and capitalize His name, wouldja?

swearing oh my god
Your point? Oh. Yeah. See above.

swear honest to pete
Apparently, I'm now the expert on swearing. This is a case where I would say that no, it isn't swearing. However, it is a form of invective. And I certainly wouldn't want my wee ones walking around saying it at their age.

can i get free refills with starbucks gold card
You realize that if you had just gone to the Starbucks site and read about the Gold Card program. You know... like I did. To answer your question though, no. You can't get free refills. However, if you use the Starbucks Card Rewards, then you get free refills.

But apparently I'm also the expert on the Gold Card program now:
starbucks gold drink customization

why do i want a starbucks gold card
You do. Trust me. I did the math.

It's so nice to feel needed, isn't it? Do you have any burning questions you need me to answer?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sorry, People!

For Christmas this year, my husband bought me a neat present. Of course, I think it's neat because I specifically requested it (along with a number of other items that he couldn't figure out -- like BPA-free mugs I have since bought myself).

With the running that I do, I'm really intrigued to know how hard I'm working and how effectively. I'd like to track my workouts, too, but I'd like a tool to make it easier. That and it's always fun to know how many calories you're burning, isn't it?


Now I feel like a real exerciser. A professional, as it were. I have my own heart rate monitor!



And no, I won't model it for you. Thanks for asking. And no, I have no idea why the picture turned sideways when I loaded it. It was fine on my computer.

Anyway, I finally started using the heart rate monitor a couple weeks ago. It's pretty cool and relatively intuitive. I only scanned the directions briefly to figure out how to work it. I love technology like this!

I put it on and started out. A friend of mine was at the gym with me that day doing the elliptical while I ran. As usual, I had my iPod with me, phones in my ears, listening to my podcast while I happily ran. When I finished, she was on the ab machines, so I moseyed over there to talk to her.

As I cooled down more and stopped the podcast, I realized my heartrate monitor was beeping. Eh, it wasn't too loud. I waited for my friend to finish. When she joined me, she realized I was the one who had been beeping and had distracted her from her counts while doing crunches. Oops.

Apparently my monitor beeps unhappily and quite loudly whenever my heartrate goes above or below my target rate. When I'm on the treadmill, it's not a big deal since just about everyone is listening to their iPods anyway and can't really hear the beeping.

Today, I put the heartrate monitor on to go to my belly dancing class. Except that it wasn't belly dancing because the teacher was still recovering from her surgery. Instead they brought the Soul Grooves teacher in. No problem, it's still basically dancing.

Ten minutes into the class, a slower song came on and my heartrate dropped. I started beeping. I now realized how loud that beeping was. And I'm pretty sure others in the class did, too.

I tried putting my hand over the wrist to mute the beeping to some degree, but that wasn't feasile for long. I tried pressing various buttons to try to get it to stop, but that didn't work either. On the plus side, I figured out how to show calories burned during my workout. That wasn't at all distracting.

Fortunately, a faster song came on, so my heart rate went back up. Phew!

And then it wasnt down again. Lots more beeping.

Luckily, the lights were turned way down or everyone would have seen my bright red face. I kept trying to keep it quiet to no avail. Somehow, it never crossed my mind that I could simply turn the monitor off completely. My brain doesn't always work the way it should.

It finally dawned on me that I vaguely remembered seeing a settings function when I stopped my workouts the past two times. In the middle of doing plies, I found a way to turn the beeping off.

Hallelujah!

By the end of class, I think people had forgotten about the obnoxious beeping, so no one made an issue of it. I never claimed to be a techhie. Remember, I liked the heart rate monitor because it was intuitive.

The good news is that I don't think my beeping will bother anyone going forward. And even better? I know how hard my workouts are. That soul grooves class? It burns more calories than I thought! 503 calories in the hour I spend there. Not quite the 598 I burned running the day before, but I won't complain.

Maybe I should go back and read that instruction manual, huh?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

You're Eating What?...

Children eat funny things. I remember a story from when I was in college and nannying about a family whose children ate sushi and edamame at the age of two. Personally, I'm all for eating sushi and edamame, but at two I don't think I would have gone for it. And I've tried to do sushi with my wee ones, and they aren't quite ready for it.

Sometimes you have kids that are super picky... they'll eat a certain brand of chicken nuggets and nothing else. They'll eat pasta with butter and strawberries, but no more. And there are times when I've wondered if my wee ones were heading down that path.

I shouldn't worry. They eat fine, although there are certainly things I wish they ate more or less of. Then again, I could apply that to what I eat, too!

Recently, we won a contest that Veggie Mom was having for Pop'rs. We got eight flavors to try out, and he's had a lot of fun with them. He really loves the color burst, cocoa and raspberry on yogurt or applesauce. In his milk is another favorite treat.

Tonight, we had popcorn chicken and corn for dinner.

I'm not sure where he got the idea, but he decided he wanted Pop'rs on his corn.

I'm not going to discourage him from trying new things, so I put a few pieces of corn on the side of his plate and let him put a couple Color Burst Pop'rs on it (yep, Color Burst -- kind of a fruity flavored one, not Butter that would make more sense).

And... he liked it. So I put Pop'rs on all of the corn, and he proceeded to have a grand old time eating them.




Personally, when I take a good look at it, I have no interest in trying this combination. The color burst starts out pink, turns blue and then green. Mixed with the yellow of the corn, well... ick!


So of course he decided that he wanted the Color Burst Pop'rs on his popcorn chicken. Who am I to refuse?


He loved it. He ate his dinner so quickly, that I hardly had time to get the camera to save this moment of ummm childhood for posterity. At least my husband was smarter and put the Bufalo flavor on his chicken. And now, I'm thinking I know where Mister Man gets it from!

So what weird things do your kids eat? Or you!

Friday, January 23, 2009

How To Get Fired... Real Fast!

Keep in mind that this situation is highly hypothetical. I'm totally making it up. I think. At the very least, I don't work in this field, so it couldn't possibly have actually happened, right?

Step one: Be smart. Be really, really smart and go to a good college and major in IT stuff. Do well at it.

Step two: Get a job at a large company working in technical services. Help fix computers, do software development, and ensure the network works properly. I'm sure there's lots more to it, but I'm so not technical, which means I unfortunately can't provide any more specifics.

Step three: Ensure you're assigned to a project that involves deploying software to the entire company. This means you get to choose, test and then deploy the software. You make sure that it doesn't conflict with any other software out there and then push it out. To tens and tends of thousands of computers across the country.

Step four: Do your testing. But only do it half-heartedly. Or maybe forget to test. Or maybe forget to update something from the test region. Or maybe somehow corrupt the file before deploying it.

Step five: Deploy the software. To tens and tens of thousands of people.

Step six: Step into a giant ugly, ugly mess as you see that tens and tens of thousands of people start to have issues. Some are kicked off the network. Some are forced to reboot in an endless loop, over and over again. Some have error messages pop up non-stop.

Step seven: Realize that there is not an easy fix. Realize that you have managed to shut down offices throughout the country. Thankfully, somehow there are people who have miraculously been spared, but they are by far in the minority.

Step eight: On day two of this issue, see for the first time what it looks like to see thousands of laptops piled up in one place, with Post-Its placed on them identifying who each belongs to. Feel a huge lump in the pit of your stomach as you hope and pray that the laptops can be fixed soon. Like really soon. And that when they're repaired, that the Post-It note stays on the right computer each time.

Step nine: Realize that there is not an easy fix. Start taking angry calls from thousands and thousands of people who are unable to work for a second day. Tell them that you don't have an ETA of when their computers will be fixed. Hope that they can find an unused desktop that they can at least access some information to be able to work.

Step nine: On day three, start giving an ETA for the complete fix of laptops of three business days from now. Remind people that this isn't a promise but just an estimate. Start ignoring your phone. Decide to forward your phone to voicemail. Decide to just unplug your phone altogether.

Step ten: Keep apologizing to all your colleagues, within and outside the technology group. Realize how many people had to be sent home without being able to get any work done and start calculating the cost of this mistake.

Step eleven: Hide. Start looking through the classifieds for another job in Timbuktu where no one has heard of you.

I am so glad that I'm not in technology services right now. And I'm really glad that if this situation were to happen, that my computer would somehow be spared so that I would be able to continue working were this unfortunate situation to somehow manifest itself.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Flower Boy

I've been wanting to tell this story for awhile. It just cracks me up every time, which means of course that none of you will find it remotely funny. But it became a huge joke amongst my friends for quite awhile. And it really sums up how my life went for awhile -- and luckily, I could laugh at it.

In any case, it wasn't quite a blind date, but it was pretty close. I was at a party a friend of mine was throwing and some guy asked for my number and I gave it to him. I'm not quite sure why I did, because it's not like we spent time talking and clicking that night or anything, but he did call and ask me out shortly thereafter.

He agreed to pick me up at my apartment on a Friday, and the plan was to go to dinner and then a movie afterwards.

At the time, I was working in consulting, and I had a lot to do that day. By the time I left the office, I was running a bit late. I wasn't too worried though. Then I remembered that it was my week for the flowers.

Each week, our reception area got a huge massive bouquet of flowers that set out on the desk all week long. Friday afternoon, one of the consultants took it home to enjoy the remaining flowery loveliness. Too keep it from getting me all messy, I placed it into a large garbage bag and carried it carefully to my apartment.

When I arrived at my building, Flower Boy was standing at the entrance waiting for me. He was fifteen minutes early, I might add. And oh. He was carrying a bouquet. You know those bouquets you see in the grocery stores with just a couple old carnations in them? Yeah. That's what he was carrying. While I held probably a couple hundred dollars worth of a gorgeous bouquet in my arms.

Well, that wasn't awkward or anything.

I graciously invited him up so I could put his lovely bouquet into water (while ignoring the flowers I had -- I didn't even take them out of the bag!). I guess you've all figured out where the name Flower Boy comes from, huh? It doesn't stop there though.

We head back downstairs and start walking to the restaurant, which is literally about three blocks from my apartment. He raves about the restaurant the whole time, how much he loves it and how great the service is ad nasueum.

We're walking up Wells, and we keep walking. And keep walking. And just about hit North Avenue. He's certain that we must have passed it because we were having such a great conversation (really, we were?). We double back and look for it, but don't see it. Then he decides it must be across the street. Nope, not there either.

As we're walking south on Wells again, I spot the restaurant. On the original side of the street. We head over, and I do the uh-oh, I don't think it's open yet. Apparently, that's when his first slipup of saying he made a reservation but not really making a reservation became apparent.

I volunteered to go elsewhere, since there were about five thousand restaurants in that four blocks we had already walked twice. He's convinced we have to go to the original restaurant. I shrugged and followed him. When we got to the doors, it was quite apparent that the restaurant was closed and wasn't about to open anytime soon. The tablecloths were gone from the table, most chairs were gone, and it looked pretty musty.

He finally agreed to go somewhere else.

We found another Italian restaurant, and we sat at the bar to wait for a table. Our great conversation continued as he talked about how his uncle had eight children and how he thought that was so great and how he wanted to have eight kids, too, and wouldn't that just be really cool to have that many children and what a great life they'd all have. And I started edging towards the exit.

When he took a bathroom break, I seriously thought about making a break for it myself before I realized that he knew where I lived. A note to any single guys out there: talking about having eight children on a first date is not the way to a girl's heart.

When our table was ready, he ordered a beer, and they brought a pilsner glass for him to drink from. You know that trick that bartenders do where they flip the beer bottle into the glass and then pull the bottle up and the beer flows beautifully into the glass? He decided to show off how he could do that, too. Except that when he tried, he ummm broke the glass.

I played it off and made a joke of it to try to make himself feel better, but he just went into a self beat-down mode. It was a liiiiiiiiiittle bit uncomfortable. He eventually got over it.

As we had our main course served, he reached for his glass of water. And spilled it. All. Over. Me. I'm still not quite sure how he did it, but he soaked me and my plate. Fortunately, I have quick reflexes, so I was able to save my meal. You can imagine the self-loathing that came from this accident.

Oh, and he ordered some Italian dish that -- at the time -- I'd never heard of, talking about how much he loved it blah blah blah. He took one bite, and his face turned a little sideways. I could tell that he was doing his best not to gag. Apparently he'd never had squid before and didn't recognize the fancy Italian name. I considered spilling my drink into his plate so he could get something new, but I didn't think I was quite proficient enough to pull that off.

Our meal ended. Given all the mix-ups, it took much longer than either of us had expected, and we decided to to forego the movie and just walked back to my apartment.

When we got there, we did the usual first date dancing around I had a great time, thank you so much thing. As he was saying good-bye, I was expecting him to try to hug me but was hoping he wouldn't try to kiss me. I needn't have worried. He stuck his hand out for me to quite formally shake. "I had a great time. I'd love to do this again. Are you free next Friday?"

Dude, are you a glutton for punishment? No. NO! Fortunately, he took me rather startled I-don't-think-so quite well.

And thus, the legend of Flower Boy was born. This many years later, I'm sure I've forgotten some salient details, but most of them remain burned into my memory.

You'd think that this was the end of the story, but ... I did run into him one other time. It was at another party of a completely different friend. I wish I could remember what he said, but it wasn't quite as memorable. I know he was telling all his friends that he'd dated me but was totally ignoring me to my face.

At that point in time, I was dating a very different guy. Actually, he was a former college wrestler. I had told him the Flower Boy story previously and absolutely cracked up to show him Flower Boy in the flesh. Wrestler Boy didn't take so well to Flower Boy trying to make an issue of me. I do remember him walking up to Flower Boy and requesting the he grow a pair. If only I could remember the exact quote. It was perfect for the situation.

Oddly, I never saw him after that. I think the two meetings of me frightened him away from parties forever after that.

So what's your worst first/blind date story?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I'm Out Of Ammo

Little Miss is too smart for her own good. She doesn't mind being punished, and if something doesn't work, she knows I have to move on to something else. For various things over the past couple years, I've tried carrots and sticks, rewards and punishments, to varying degrees of success.

For the last year or so, I discovered that the best way to keep Little Miss in line (when needed, which granted isn't that often) is to take away her favorite toys. If she doesn't behave and listen when I ask her to do something, she gets a warning that she needs to do X or she will lose Y.

Napping is starting to become an issue, partly because my mom told Little Miss that she doesn't really have to sleep anymore. Ummm hello, can you not see the circles below her eyes when she doesn't nap? Do you not notice the difference in her behavior when she's overtired? *sigh*

Needless to say, getting her to actually sleep instead of playing during naptime is becoming an issue. I hear a thump and go check and there she is standing on her nightstand playing. Away goes a toy. A little while later I discover her kicking her headboard and good-bye Baby Giggles.

Today, we hit a new level.

Unfortunately, my husband was doing the parenting last night while I was at Costco, so when Little Miss had an accident (90% sure that was his fault anyway), he took away ALLLLLLL her stuffed animals. Great.

Before her nap, she went potty and pooped with no streaks, so she earned back an animal (see, I'm not totally mean -- she knows how to get them back, too). She, of course, chose Snowy her special bear.

We discussed what I expected for naptime for the girl who was up before 7am. There was to be no playing. No jumping. No messing with the curtains. No peeps (talking). Just lay down and go to sleep. With eyes closed.

She soon had to go potty. And yes, she really again had to go potty. She didn't earn anything back then. The rule is that if you have to get up in the middle of nap after I offer pre-nap potty, you don't earn anything.

A short while later, I heard a huge thump and then some big screaming. I raced upstairs to find her howling hysterically. "I was laying down, Mommy. I was laying down and I hurt myself!" Uh-huh. I calmed her down long enough to discover that she had bumped her head pretty hard above the ear to the point that her entire ear was bright red.

Yeah... she was laying down alright. She claims that the nightstand bumped her while she was sleeping. Except that the bump was on the wrong side of her head for that. The girl needs to get her story straight. I'm sure she'll learn soon enough.

I didn't take Snowy then but explained that I was not to hear another sound. Pretty soon, I heard a thump. I went up and Snowy went back into timeout. She screamed. I don't mean threw a tantrum kind of cried and screamed, I mean she screeched like a banshee. Really piercing. With a few "I want my teddy bear back" pitifully thrown in for good measure.

After a few minutes, I went back up to remind her that she has five minutes to cry before she needs to stop. Miraculously, the tears stopped about four minutes and fifty-eight seconds later. I'm pretty sure she's going to be a track star with that internal clock.

And then I heard another thump. I went up, and she was standing up on the bed. She quickly dropped down and pretended she was sleeping. Because, you know, if she moves fast enough, her Jedi mind trick might work on me. Snowy was the last stuffed animal, so I had to get creative. I took one of her blankets and warned that the next sound meant I was going to start taking the Thomas trains Mister Man gave her.

She screamed and cried again, and I heard her throwing things in her room. Not cool. And that is something that I won't put up with. When I went upstairs, she walked over to the Thomas trains, picked them up and handed them to me. "I don't want to play with these anymore, anyway."

Did I mention that this all happened within a 42 minute stretch (not that I was watching the clock or anything)?

I got her up shortly thereafter. Tonight, she was in bed by 5:40. And oddly, she went straight to sleep. Here's hoping this gets her back into her regular sleep cycle.

Unfortunately, now I need another tactic. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tasty Tuesday!

It's that time of the week again, and last week, I brought you the Southwestern Tortilla Stacker, with promises of Spanish Rice to accompany it this week. Never let it be said that I don't keep my promises.

Again, I'm linking up with Blessed With Grace and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday. I found some really neat recipes there last week (Almond milk? SOOOO what I need for Little Miss and her no dairy diet! Ditto with the Whole Wheat Carrot Cranberry Muffins that I need to make!). I can't wait to see what's up this week.

But first... my recipe for Spanish rice. Sorry I don't have any pictures, but I wasn't planning to post it initially and so didn't take any during the creation of it.

This one tastes so much better than anything that comes out of a box. And it's much healthier, too. The best part is that it's pretty easy and low maintenance, so don't let anyone fool you into thinking this is harder than it is. You'll know better from now on!

Spanish Rice

Ingredients:

1 c low sodium chicken broth
1 c tomato sauce (ok, I usually cheat and use one can which doesn't quite have 1 c in it)
1 t olive oil
3 slices turkey bacon
1 1/4 c diced onion
1 c rice (uncooked)
1 tomato, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1/2 t chili powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 t pepper

Directions:
Makes 8 servings as a side, about 3/4 c each

Place the tomato sauce and broth into a pot and heat to a boil. Heat a large skillet (e.g., bouillabase pan), and add the olive oil once it's hot. Add the bacon and cook. Remove the bacon and reserve the remaining oil. Add the onion and cook about 4-5 minutes, until translucent.

While onion is cooking, chop bacon into small pieces. Add the rice, and cook 3-5 minutes while stirring occasionally. Add the broth/sauce mixture and remaining ingredients. Stir briefly, then cover. Simmer 30-40 minutes, then stir once. Serve hot.

This will reheat ok. Adding a small bit more broth when reheating keeps it from drying out.

Enjoy!

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Miracle Of The Opposing Thumb

We've all heard about how what separates man from the animals is his opposable thumb. That chimps are the only other animals (I'm going by memory now because I'm too lazy to look it up, so go with me here) with thumbs, and that's part of what makes them so special.

I'm here to back that up firsthand.

After my issue on Friday -- you know, where I fought an avocado and the avocado won? -- I havn't been able to use the thumb on my right hand at all. I can move it, but using it in any way that puts pressure on it is too painful. I never really realized how much I use my thumb, especially on my non-dominant hand, until now.

I've decided that I'm a total wimp after this incident. God forbid I ever break my arm where I'm out of commission for more than four or five days. My world as I know it would come to an end. That, or I'd learn to adapt.

And without further ado, my list of things that I'm surprised I can't do (or find quite difficult) without two hands... or at least without two thumbs:

Crack an egg. And so far, I've had to crack three of them. I'm starting to get the hang of it, but only because I know there's a trick to cracking them one handed and I'm determined to master it!

Style my hair. While I'm able to shower and wash my hair one handed sorta ok, actually styling my hair beyond combing it out is pretty much out of the question. I can't hold the blow dryer or a brush in my right hand, which means that I'd basically be creating a rat's nest if I were to try... and that's just not the look I'm going for right now.

Shift my car out of park. You've gotta love all the extra safety features like the button I have to push while shifting to ensure I don't accidentally shift. Of course, now that means I have to get creative and use two hands to shift. Thank God I don't have a manual transmission!

Buckle Little Miss into the carseat. Along the same lines, safety is great, but it's definitely meant for those with two hands. I can manage to undo her carseat -- which makes sense given the fact that I've heard of children undoing their restraints -- but putting it together just isn't happening right now. Fortunately, my husband has been home for the long weekend, so he's been able to do it. Fingers crossed that tomorrow I regain use of my hand. I'm not really comfortable putting her into a booster seat, as that's about the extent of the restraints I can handle at the moment.

Open a jar. I've turned into a total sissy. I've tried everything I can think of to steady the jar with my right hand while using my left to twist it off, but I can't get enough torque. So nowI just walk up to my husband with a sad look on my face and he knows just what to do.

Put on a glove. Yep, January in Chicago and I have a massive bandage on my right hand. I don't own a glove that fits over my thumb, but I have one pair where I can at least sorta get my hand into the glove, even if my thumb isn't in the thumb hole.

Shuffle cards. Because today, of course, was the first day in two months that the wee ones have wanted to play both Crazy 8s and Memory. And if you don't shuffle the cards, the game isn't so fun. So I taught them a new game. I may come to regret it, but they loved 52 card pickup!

Fasten my bra. Any boy worth his salt over the age of 13 and any woman of any age (I think it's genetic) can unfasten a bra with one hand. Have you ever tried to put on one one-handed though? Fortunately, I have managed to figure it out, but it takes a long time and usually involves redoing it a few times, as my bandage gets tangled up in the hooks.

Cook. Ok, I've found a few things that I can make myself, but I can't really open anything that's in a package or cut anything right now. And of course yesterday we headed over to a friend's house, where I was supposed to bring something appetizer-y. So I made a caramel dip (plain yogurt, neufchatel, brown sugar and vanilla blended -- I could do all but open the cream cheese!) and some marinated tomato mozzarella toothpick things. I could get the first tomato on, and I could get just a little of the cheese on, but then I was stuck. My lucky husband got to do all the fun work, with me supervising! That also included cutting up the pineapple for the dip. Watching someone cut up a pineapple for the first time is highly entertaining. At least I was smart enough to get strawberries and apples for the other dipping items, so those were easier to deal with!

Take off a watch. My heart rate monitor has a wristwatch component to it that I wore yesterday when I went to the gym (so, yes, I can run at least with stitches -- we'll see tonight how yoga goes!). I struggled but managed to get it on. However, there was nothing I could do to get it off. Nothing. I finally had to ask another woman in the locker room to help me. Of course, I later realized that had I put it on my right wrist instead of my left, I wouldn't have had any issues. Duh.

And the number one thing I can't do? Shovel. Yep, I'm currently unable to shovel since I can't grip the shovel with a second hand. Darn!

Fortunately... I can still type.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

At Least We (They?) Have Fun

I joined a new church last summer. And really, we joined a new religion entirely. I was born and raised Catholic. I was married in a Catholic church, and the wee ones are baptized Catholic.

We left the Catholic church though for a number of reasons, the final straw being the unacceptable (and unavailability) of religious education for the wee ones. We landed in an Episcopal church that is very different from any church I've been a part of before, and not only because of its very small size and tight-knit community.

The Sunday School for this particular church happens between the morning services, wich is different from what I was used to. It occurs in the hour or so before the service that my husband and I would attend. And adults are urged to attend the adult formation classes that occur simultaneously. Yeah... I'm not really into that. Being such a small church though, it would be obvious if I weren't there.

Then I found out that the choir practices at the same time as Sunday School. I enjoy singing, although I'm not a great singer, and they were happy to have another member -- especially a soprano, since there were only one and a sometimes member at the time.

I didn't quite realize what I was signing up for, but I'm in now. Not only do we practice on Sunday mornings, but we have a weekly practice on Wednesday evenings for a couple hours. And once a month or so, we have a couple hour practice on a Saturday morning.

Yesterday is a good example of such a practice, as we have a multi-church choir concert that we're performing in next Sunday (yeah, apparently kids aren't the only ones with choir concerts -- who knew?). In fact, we're performing in Navajo, English and Latin. Memorized.

Shockingly, I actually have the songs down pat after yesterday's almost three hour rehearsal.

Yep, I said a three hour (straight) choir rehearsal. Needless to say, we were a bit slap happy near the end, and me being the new one to the religion, they started pulling out their Episcopal jokes to tell me.

How many Episcopals does it take to change a lightbulb?
Two and a fifth.

In most relgions, whenever two or three are gathered in His name, he is present. For the Episcopals, whenever two are gathered, there's always a fifth present.

Or, as another choir member pointed out, for every four Episcopalians, you find a fifth.

Why do Episcopals all sit in the back of the church?
Because there are no pews in the parking lot.

Episcopals believe they are the only people God trusts enough to take summers off from Church.
What's the best part about being an Episcopalian?
Being Episcopalin never interferes with your politics... or your religion.

Yeah... and apparently they refer to themselves as Whiskey-palians. I just can't quite see having this kind of a conversation in a Catholic church. Maybe it's the churches I ended up at, but this denomination is definitely more my speed!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I Don't Quite Get It...

I gotta vent. And this is going to come out really catty, but I just really don't get it.

As any of you who've read this blog for any period of time know, both the wee ones go to a special needs preschool. In Illinois, once you turn three you can be screened to see if you qualify to go to the Early Learning Center in your school district. As of this year, you need only one qualifying criteria, but you used to need two.

They range anything from being a multiple to low income to having been a part of the Early Intervention program to English not being your native language to having a sibling who attended and more. Of course, if you have a developmental delay, you automatically qualify and receive an IEP (an Individual Education Program) that has the goals your child is striving to meet that year.

Mister Man qualified to go because he was part of Early Intervention (which meant he had to be screened and evaluated as to whether or not he needed to attend before his third birthday) because he was a part of the EI program, as well as because he had gross and fine motor delays and some pragmatic language delays. He doesn't have an official diagnosis, and my sincere hope is that he never needs one. But this is the right place for him.

Do I love him any less because he attends this school? Am I embarrassed about the fact that he attendst his school when the majority of my friends have "normal" kids who go to private preschool? Absolutely not on either count.

Little Miss probably would be fine not at the school. She was part of EI but graduated just after turning two. She doesn't have an IEP but attends as an at-risk child. They are somewhat concerned about her balance, but I'm still waiting for that call saying they want to test her to possibly develop an IEP. Cynically, I think the principal wanted Little Miss at the preschool so that I would still be involved after this year.

Because this year, I'm the PTO president for the preschool, and I do a lot of work for it. I enjoy trying to make a difference there, and I recognize the importance of it. The woman who was president for the two years before me was quite possibly a better president. She's a stay at home mom and is involved in a ton of community organizations so has network connections everywhere. Hats off to her for doing a great job.

This year, her son moved to kindergarten, so she handed over the reins of the presidency. She didn't totally step away from her involvement in special needs causes, however. She co-founded a special needs organization for our area that focuses on all the support and advocacy you need outside school. She's currently the president of that organization.

I can't commit to any more meetings or organizations right now with my schedule, so I haven't seen her in action in this organization firsthand, but I can only imagine the effort she's putting forth and the bang-up job that she's doing. She's very vocal in her support or her child and all children with special needs. In fact, she was one of those spearheading the effort to get our board to approve building a new school.

So you can imagine the shock when she friended me on Facebook but then immediately sent me a note on my home account. "I want to be your friend on Facebook, but please don't say anything about Bart (her son). None of my friends from high school or college know anything about him, and I'd prefer it stay that way."

Really?

Her son doesn't stick out. He's much like Mister Man in many ways. In fact, they were in the same class last year and got along famously with another boy. I keep thinking about this. Mulling it over in my mind why she doesn't want anyone to know.

In a way, I'd totally understand if she were just someone that I'd met through Mister Man at school who wasn't involved and who just sort of stayed quiet. But she's not. She was the face and the voice of our program for two and a half years. She was an advocate. And now, I feel like she's a hypocrite.

It can't be that she's embarrassed by him, can it? I keep going back and forth between that and wanting to protect him from anyone saying something to him to hurt his feeling about not being "normal." But these are people from high school. From college. Who she's connected to only via Facebook and not people that she sees on a regular basis or who would really come into contact with her son where they'd say something to him.

It really feels like she's just trying to save face and create the illusion of a perfect life. And to me... that's truly disheartening. What kind of a message is she sending to all those people who think that being special needs doesn't affect them? What is she saying to all those people who should have their child tested for delays but don't because they're afraid of the labels they might receive?

Why wouldn't she tell these people that it's ok. That you can have a child with special needs and that there are so many flavors of it from things that are barely perceptible to very severe delays. That everyone needs a little help, and that it's better to get the help when they're young than to pretend it doesn't exist and just hope it goes away. That special needs doesn't just happen to someone else but that it impacts more people than you'd ever guess.

I really don't get it. And unfortunately, that single email caused me to lose a lot of respect for her. And that makes me sad.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Don't Use A Bigger Tool Than You Need

Have you noticed that today's post came out much later than a normal Friday post? Yeah... me, too. Wanna know why?

Basically, I'm a moron. And I'm ok with admitting that.

I was making some guacamole for lunch today (see, I told you I've been making it a lot), and for whatever reason, I was using a chef's knife. To remove the pit from the avocado, you ram the knife into the pit and twist. The pit pops out clean, and ta-da, you're done.

But if you use a chef's knife, it's really sharp. And it goes deeply enough into the pit and is still sharp enough that when you twist, frequently you just tear off part of the pit instead of popping it out. I know this from experience -- previous experience even.

Today though, I stuck the knife into the pit and twisted. It broke off the pit. Twice. The third time, I was talking to the wee ones explaining how to make guacamole when I slammed the knife into the pit for the third time. And "into" the pit might be a bit of a misnomer. I sorta sliced off a portion of the pit. And the knife kept going. Right into my thumb.

Regrettably, I don't have a picture of the injury. I wasn't thinking quite that clearly (and I hear that huge sigh of relief, people!).

I did, however, have the presence of mind to put down the knife, poke at the wound to see if it would bleed and then make a beeline for the kitchen sink and blood welled up in and around the wound. The drip, drip, drip of the blood into the sink convinced me that it wasn't a good idea to go upstairs on the light beige carpet myself in search of a Band-Aid, so I sent Mister Man instead.

My good helper! At first he couldn't find a Band-Aid, but he persevered. He was such a helper, that he insisted that he open the Band-Aid for me. Except that he doesn't know how to open it from the top, so he tried to open it by tearing little holes in the sides. As he was walking down the stairs. Slowly walking down the stairs.

Fortunately, I put the Band-Aid on and the bleeding stopped. I then finished the guacamole and ate it, put the wee ones to bed and went to a playdate. My thumb hurt some, but what do you expect?

At the playdate, I bumped my thumb on a car and blood started pouring out from under the Band-Aid. I replaced it and we went home. Where I then started googling "when to get stitches."

I headed to the ER. Because, you know, I haven't been there often enough lately.

Shockingly, in the four below zero weather, the ER was pretty quiet. I was seen almost immediately. And they agreed that I needed stitches.

Bummer! I haven't had stitches since I was two years old and sliced open my finger scraping tomato paste out of a can with my finger (don't ask). But I'm game. I have no fear of blood or needles, so sewing my hand should be easy!

The irrigation part confirmed my confidence level. It hurt just a little bit, but no biggie.

Then the doctor came in. He had a large needle. Apparently they needed to numb the area. I looked at my hand and tried to figure out where they were going to inject it. All my theories were dashed when he started injecting it right at my knuckle. I watched as a whole lotta numbing stuff started to make my thumb swell out unnaturally to where it looked like a second thumb was growing. Then he moved it to another spot and kept injecting. I had to look at away, as that was just creeping me out.

Then he used his little fishhook to start sewing me up. OUCH! As I started squirming, the doctor asked if I could still feel it. Ummm yeah! He reassured me that he'd hold off and we'd finish up in a few minutes when the numbing agent set in.

Then he proceeded to finish pushing his fishhook through my skin. He pulled the thread through. Then the started tying knots. Ow! Ouch! OWWWWW! When he finished that suture, he walked out until the numbing agent took effect.

When he came back,he poked me with the needle a few time before starting. Good to go! We got the last two sutures in with no issues, and I was ready to go home.

Except now I need to go to the doctor on Monday. Bummer. And I can't get my hand wet until after my wound check. I can't wait to see how I figured that out.

So the next time you try to pit an avocado, use a smaller knife. A chef's knife really isn't necessary. I promise.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I Was Always Such A Good Girl

As a mom, one of the most important things to teach my kids is to have a moral compass. In this day and age, we need a strong moral compass considering how many around us do wrong on a daily basis and think nothing of it -- and yes, I'm talking to you mommy at daycare who parks in the handicapped spot because you can't be bothered to park two spots away. Don't you think about what that's teaching your child?

But I digress....

I do my best to make sure the wee ones know right from wrong. To know that it's important for them to feel right about themselves, regardless of what others think or do. And to be content with that.

It's a big mission isn't it? And I really have no idea how to do it other than to show on a daily basis that I believe what I tell them and that it works.

My mom taught me well. In fact, she may have taught me a little too well. I told you before about the guilt I still feel about cheating (ok, I thought I did but I can't find that post so maybe I didn't). I haven't told you yet that I also once stole.

Shockingly, I still feel guilty about it.

But worse... I stole more than once.

Do you remember when we were younger (only those of us in my generation respond please -- I don't want any of that "What are you talking about" stuff from you young folk) and we had those plastic chain necklaces with the plastic charms that we clipped to them?

I had a blue chain. I remember that. And I had a ton of charms. One day, I was in a store that sold the charms. They stored them in bins and bins and bins throughout the middle of the store. There were tons of charms. I was probably in late elementary school, and I'm pretty sure my mom and sister were with me. I saw a rocket ship shaped much like Challenger that I wanted.

I have no idea why I wanted it. And my mom probably would have bought it for me -- eventually, if not that day. But I picked it up and slipped it in my pocket. And we all walked out of the store.

Until me, the good little girl, couldn't stand the guilt. I was maybe five feet out the store when I turned around and ran back into the store to put the little rocket back into its bin. My mom never knew.

I really should have known better.

I'd stolen before. This time, I was younger. I was in fourth grade, and Leslie Field was my best friend. She was an only child, adopted, and her parents truly doted on her. She had her bedroom filled with all sorts of cool toys and a spare bedroom that was her playroom.

By no means was I deprived of anything, but I didn't have quite as much... anything as Leslie did. And I was jealous of her. We were both new in school that year, but she seemed to have an easier time of it than I did, although we were definitely best friends. Apparently as a fourth grader I felt a bit inadequate.

She had one thing (besides the awesomely cool dollhouse) that I didn't have. She had the little gold tin that slid sideways to open to reveal fruit flavored lip balm. My mom would never buy that for me. And Leslie had the watermelon flavored kind.

The generous friend she was, she often shared it with me, and I coveted that lip balm. She kept it on the shelf of her desk in her bedroom. When we were in her playroom one day, I wandered into her bedroom and pocketed the lip balm. She had so much other stuff, she'd never miss it, right? We continued playing with her massively ornate dollhouse.

The next day, she told me that her lip balm was missing. I played the concerned friend and helped her look for it. Secretly, I was triumphant. She didn't suspect a thing.

But... that triumphant feeling didn't last long. Soon I felt guilty. That night, I put the lip balm back into my pocket to return to Leslie. I could admit to her that I'd taken it, but I was a coward. I waited until we were back at her house and then slipped it underneath her chair that converted to a bed. I later "found" it and showed her.

I didn't learn from the first experience, but I certainly did from the second. And in looking back at this, in a weird way, I hope that the wee ones do try to steal when they're young. And I hope that I've somehow managed to do a good enough job in cementing their moral compasses that they realize how icky that makes them feel so that they never steal again.

Hey. It worked for me!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It's Still January!

Indulge me here a moment. I'm a mom of a preschooler who will be going to kindergarten next year. And right now, it's so cold that school may be canceled tomorrow. I'm focused on making sure that our pipes don't freeze and that we keep the driveway and sidewalk passable from all the snow.

I'm not ready to start thinking about next year. After spring break. After the rest of the school year. After summer school. After the long, lazy days of playing in the pool and around the neighborhood and riding bikes. I'm not ready to think about the first week of September and what my baby is going to be doing!

But I don't really get that choice. I have friends who've already registered their children for kindergarten for next year. In fact, they'll find out this coming Friday whether they got into the full day kindergarten program or just the half day one.

In other words, I shouldn't really complain.

But tonight, I went to a meeting about transitioning from the early learning center to kindergarten. It was actually quite informative, and I'm glad I went. They had a whole panel of people from different kindergarten programs and therapists and teachers at our current school to describe what they do and answer questions.

Yeah. Let me ask questions. They regretted that, I think. I ask a lot of questions because I want to understand things. That and I have a husband who teaches in the district, so I get partial information on a lot of things that others may not have learned yet.

From listening to the presentation, I'm pretty sure that Mister Man will go to his home school. He won't need to go to one of the special programs throughout the district, and for that I'm grateful. I'm pretty sure that he'll receive services, but they really try to push them in the classroom versus making it a big thing where he is pulled from the classroom and made aware that he's so different. It really takes away some of the worry.

Plus, I found out that they have a great program that is open to residents across the district -- special education and not -- to get ready for kindergarten. And more importantly, that the slots fill up really fast. Now I know not to dither and to make sure I turn in that form as quickly as possible. I won't wonder whether or not he'll go to summer school via the early learning center like he has the past two summers and then end up not getting into the program. And best of all, if the ELC recommends that he attend the program, they provide bussing, so that's one less worry for me. Yay!

Interestingly, only three of the schools in our district do any sort of kindergarten screening. I'm not an expert, but I always thought they did assessments of kids before they went to kindergarten to get a sense of what they do and don't know. Fortunately, my home school is one of those, so Mister Man will head over to the school one day in March with another four or six kids for an hour and a half. They'll test his hearing and vision and see if he knows his letters, recognizes colors and shapes, can count to twenty and the like. Yeah. I'll have to make sure that he shows them what he actually knows so that ...

they can make sure to provide him with the differentiated education my district is so proud of. Apparently they really mean it when they say that the kids who know how to read are given extra work and higher level concepts to focus on rather than being bored. I'll believe it when I see it, but they really pushed it tonight. In fact, they said that if the level of acceleration is enough that they're doing completely different things from the rest of the class, they'll involve the gifted coordinator in the district from the get-go instead of waiting for the testing they ordinarily do in second grade. The last thing anyone wants -- whether they know it or not at this point -- is for Mister Man to be bored!

He has an IEP, and he'll continue to have an IEP. This fall he'll be re-evaluated because it's time for the three year evaluation (that I also learned about tonight). Who knows what this will show, but the schools are very willing to continue to provide consult services to keep an IEP open in case the progress made doesn't continue. That prevents having to go through all sorts of testing and other hoops if the need to reopen an IEP comes up. But fingers crossed, one day soon he will graduate from needing an IEP. I'd love to see him a totally "normal" kid, but if that doesn't happen this district provides great support, and it's the best place for him. As long as he's happy, that's all I ask.

And best of all, the principal agreed to my suggestion that we put together a voluntary list of parents in the school who have children moving on to kindergarten throughout the district who want to get together with other children from their anticipated schools prior to the school year. Yay! I'll actually know someone other than the few kids in our neighborhood who will be moving on with us. And more importantly, I'll have some more resources who will get my concerns and frustrations, having lived through them theirselves. I'm making up the form tonight, and we're starting to pull the list together at Dad's Night next month!

And soon. All too soon. In nine short months, I'll have a kindergartener on my hands!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tasty Tuesday!

Well, I've been doing the Tasty Tuesday for a few weeks. A couple days ago, I was over visiting Angela and saw someone else who thought that Tuesday was a good day to share recipes and other kitchen-y type advice. They host a carnival called Tempt My Tummy Tuesday. Since I'm already posting a recipe this day, I figured I'd join in the fun. If you're visiting from Blessed With Grace and TMTT, welcome! Come visit and explore the world of Honest & Truly!

And for the rest of you, enjoy my Southwest Tortilla Stacker. This is a super easy recipe that doesn't take much time to prepare but always gets rave reviews. My mom even stole some of the leftovers from my fridge yesterday when she was watching the wee ones. She took it to bridge for lunch, and everyone in her bridge group was jealous of the "gourmet" lunch she had. Little did they know how easy it was....

I've also made this as part of my Supper Swapping, and with different families having different tastes, it's easy to alter. One family doesn't like beans very much, so I leave them out. Another likes things really spicy, so I use a spicy salsa and throw in some hot sauce to boot. Then there are those people who don't like corn... you get the idea.

Shame on me I forgot to get the before picture of ingredients, but I was in a hurry as I was trying to get two of these put together so I could drop one off for a neighbor who had just had a baby. Speaking of which, these are great to make up, stick the Pyrex on top and put it in the freezer for another meal later. Yum!



Southwest Tortilla Stacker

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts, poached (or chunks of a yummy rotisserie chicken, even better!)
3 c dried black beans, soaked overnight
3 c frozen corn
12 oz salsa (look for low sodium)
1/4 c chopped cilantro
5 flour tortillas
2 c part skim mozzarella cheese


Makes one pie that serves 8.

Prepare the black beans by soaking them overnight. Rinse the beans, then place into a pot and cover with water. Simmer for 25-30 minutes until soft.

While beans are simmering, poach chicken (pot of water, quartered onion, 2 bay leaves brought to a boil) by simmering for 20 minutes.

While chicken is poaching, chop cilantro.Add cilantro, corn, salsa to a bowl.Once chicken is cooked, shred it and add to the bowl.

Drain the beans and add them to the bowl, as well. Stir to combine.

In a 8x8 baking pan, spray lightly with nonstick spray. Layer a tortilla in the bottom.

Add 1/4 of the mixture and top with 1/2 c of mozzarella. Add a tortilla and continue laying until you place the fifth tortilla on top to end the pattern.

Bake in a 425 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve warm or hot.




You'll notice that I have this served with my Spanish Rice. That's another super easy recipe that is soooo much better than any of the boxed rices that you'll find and really easy to make. I start the pie with the beans and chicken, move to the rice, finish the pie and start it baking while I finish up the rice. It pretty much finishes at the same time which works out nicely.

Enjoy!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Things That Make Me Go Hmmmm...

I'm exhausted, we have a blizzard forecast and I stupidly went out to a yoga class tonight in the snow. You get a really short one from me today!

Every week when I go to work (because I'm only in the office one day a week, after all!), I park in nearly the same spot. I suppose we all have our spots where we park. We have the same marker we use to remember, we walk past the same cars day after day, and we start to notice things that stand out.

Like one of the senior executives at my company. His car is parked just a few cars away from mine every morning. It's easy to tell whose car it is because he has a ... quite distinctive license plate.

Every morning, I walk past this red Cadillac with the distinctive license plate. Most mornings, I think nothing of it beyond noticing that it's there.

Then there are the days when it's snowed.

On those days, it's even easier to pick out than normal. It's the only car in the vicinity that is covered in snow.

Two things about that strike me as odd.

First, he's an executive. He makes wayyyyyyy more money than I do. He's also way older than I am, which means that he's been making way more money than me for way longer. So I just don't get it. Why does the man not have a garage to park his car in?

Second, the car is literally covered in snow. You can see just a little of the rear windshield and sometimes some of the side windows. The trunk is piled high with snow. The roof seems like it could cave in for all the thick white stuff piled atop it. Even that distinctive license plate isn't visible. How does he manage to drive all the way to work without the snow falling off his car? And (personal pet peeve) why doesn't he just quickly scrape the snow off?

Today, his car was piled high with snow. Because, you know, it snowed on Saturday. Two days ago. I'm still wrapping my mind around this one.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

That's My Girl!

It's Sunday. In the winter. So guess what my husband and the wee ones did today?

okokok, besides go to Sunday school and church. Oh, and get us almost kicked out of the nursery because Little Miss had an accident of the solid kind in her pants.

Nope, I'm not referring to any of that. Hello! It's playoffs in the NFL! They were watching football, of course. Later this afternoon, after the Eagles shocked the world, the Steelers game came on.

By this point, I was home for the gym and was listening to the conversation while making dinner in the kitchen.

Little Miss asked -- oh so innocently -- Daddy, why are those people waving napkins?

Yeah... she's got a future as a heckler alright.

Sweetie, those are called Terrible Towels. And you don't want to call them napkins in front of a Pittsburgh fan. As cute as you are, that won't save you from their wrath at denigrating such a sacred object.

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